BILLINGS — The Army Corps of Engineers is studying the possible construction of an $11.1 million network of weather stations to improve flood control across the Upper Missouri River Basin, officials said.
Stations are being upgraded for proof of concept in Bozeman at Montana State University and in Sheridan, Wyoming, and Brookings, South Dakota, The Billings Gazette reports.
After the systems and equipment demonstrate their capability, Corps officials propose installing 360 similar stations at a cost of more than $31,000 each.
There are about 180 existing sites collecting weather data for the Upper Missouri River Basin, officials said.
The details of the study are contained in a draft environmental assessment of updates to the three soil moisture and plains snowpack monitoring stations.
The proposed expansion was triggered by the 2011 flood on the Missouri River, which the the U.S. Geological Survey called the “largest volume of flood waters since the initiation of record-keeping in the 19th century.”
The high runoff levels from snowpack and rainfall stressed the reservoir system’s capacity to control flood waters and allowed extensive damage along the river, the survey said.
The reservoir system is made up of six dams, including Fort Peck Dam in Montana and Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota.
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